18 goal journal ideas to create a life plan you love

Many of us love the idea of a goal and goal setting and goal journal ideas can prompt both setting and achieving your desired goal. New Year’s resolutions tend to revolve around goals of one sort or another. When we are asked about our lives we are often asked about goals we have, either personal or work oriented. It seems like our lives revolve around this idea that goals are a great way to measure your life. And in a way this is true. Goals keep track of how you are using your time, and we love the idea that we are efficient with our time, so if we can track our lives in terms of goals then we must be living successful lives. This is a great way of looking at our lives.

A goal journal is a written record of the progress of a desired outcome incorporating an action plan such as daily/weekly tasks, a means of tracking your goal and a log of your thoughts, feelings and mood as you undertake your goal.

Sarah Banks

Don’t measure your life on goals alone

Of course, there is the converse argument that we shouldn’t measure our lives in terms of goals but just learn to relax into our lives and into the rhythm of life, accepting its ebbs and flows, learning to be at peace with ourselves and not scurrying after yet another goal as a means of justifying our existence.

I think I fit somewhere between those two ideas. I love having goals in my life, but sometimes they seem overwhelming and I need to take a step back and just enjoy being me, living my life, loving my family, cooking meals and walking the dogs.

Creating a vision for your life

One area that I do love goal setting ideas for is creating a vision for how your life will look. You may have a specific detailed idea of your goals but if you don’t I really recommend a vision board as a starting point for creating an overall vision of your life.

People seem a bit obsessed with bucket lists but I’m not so sure. I don’t like the idea that you are pitting your actions against diminishing time. It seems to imply a lack. There’s a pressure to ‘get things done’ However I do love the idea of 20 before 20 and 50 before 50 because they can really focus your mind on what you would like to do and it seems like fun.

I also read somewhere about writing down all your bucket list items and seeing if you could do them all in two years. Or could you do them all in six months? Why spread it out over twenty years if you can go and do fun things now?!!

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Here are 18 goal journal ideas to create a life plan you love

1 Personal goals

What are your goals for this year? Or for the next quarter? Or do you have long-term goals over longer period of time? You may think of goals in terms of work or business but personal goals are really important. What would you like to achieve? How would you like to grow as a person? Maybe set yourself 5 or 6 different goals ideas and regularly come back to those ideas in your journal so that you keep track of them over time. [see here for an example]

2 Work / career goals

These goal journal ideas are big goals. They affect how you are going to live your life. Because they are big you are going to spend longer on them than you would a shorter goal, for example losing weight or running a marathon. So, seeing as this is one of your long term goals, you need to work out the best way for you to keep track and keep going in the right direction. Ideas for a work goal journal could be: What is the big goal journal that you want? How long do you think it will take and how are you going to keep track. How you feel about this goal. Does it feel achievable or daunting What steps do you need to take to get packed and ready

3 Daily goals, Monthly goals, Quarterly goals, Yearly goals

Goals are timebound. A goal has a start date and an end date. Dreams don’t have dates. So if you want to know whether your ‘life plan’ is a plan or a dream, look at whether there you have given times to them. Saying the ‘end of the year’ is not really a timely goal. You need to be really specific: “By 31 December I will have achieved …….” Your daily and monthly goals are the smaller steps of your yearly goals broken down into manageable portions. For good goal setting you may want to set SMART objectives. See below.

You don’t need to set SMART objectives to set your own goals. Create your own! A daily goal can be something as small as “Do 10 minutes yoga”, or “Walk the dogs am and pm” or “make 10 phone calls today”. Use your journal to track your progress and write about how you are feeling: what you are finding easy; what you are finding difficult.

4 Action plan / Goal Tracker

To many people there is nothing more motivating than an action plan. Action plans help keep you on the right track. They are your battle plan for every day life. Your action plan tracks the simple steps you need to take to achieve your goal. When you have decided on your goal, the first thing to do is to list out all the small steps you need to take to achieve that goal. [can create my own video here]. When you order those smaller parts into a time frame and give them a date on which you need to start working on them and a date by which they are finished, then you have your action plan.

You can then use your goal tracker to monitor the progress of your action plan. There are many goal tracker templates available online and I recommend you find one that you love and then build your own from that template. The more personal you make your goals, the greater chance you have of achieving them.

5 Habit tracker

When I did life coaching a few years back I was introduced to the idea of the ‘urge jar’. It is a way of helping you change a habit and stop doing something that you no longer want in your life. The urge jar is a large glass jar. Each time you get the urge to do something that you have decided not to do and you don’t do it, you put a marble in the jar. The idea is that once you have resisted the urge around 100 times you will no longer want to do that habit. Or rather, once you have allowed that urge to pass through you and feel the emotion of it and just allow it rather than act on it, then you put a marble in the jar. The urge jar is a habit tracker. A great one. Shout out to Brooke Castillo at the Life Coach School. Bullet journal pages are great ways of keeping track of your habit.

Be as specific as possible when you are creating your habit tracker. Make sure it relates to specific goals. The more specific you are the greater chance of success with that habit.

6 Smart goals

I love time bound goals. A good goal, well set, is a powerful tool in your ability to achieve your dreams. And having a time limit can be very motivating. You can set SMART parameters for your time bound goals. SMART objectives are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For more on SMART objectives read this post. Create repeatable sections in your journal that monitor the 5 different aspects of a smart goal. Journal on each of them. The more you interact with your goal, the higher the chance of you achieving it. If you spend 15 minutes each evening writing about your goals, what went right, what didn’t go so well, you are grappling with the challenge of the goal. The more you grapple, work out problems, create solutions, the greater the chances of your success

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7 Goals pages

In your journal, at the beginning of a project, you can outline your goals as a first step. In this section write about why you want to achieve this goal, how the inspiration for it came about and what it will mean to you when you achieve it. You can include images, or quotes, or any other inspirational thoughts in this section. Return to these pages and regularly reread them as you are progressing with your goals. Goals are challenging, that is the nature of them. But by returning to your goals pages, which are your ‘why’ in paper form, you will have enough motivation to continue with your goal.

8 New year’s resolutions

January 1st is the blank page of the calendar year. Everything lies ahead, everything is possible, expectations are high and dreams have not been challenged or thwarted. No wonder we set new year’s resolutions! They hold all the promise and none of the disappointment. My advice with new year’s resolutions is to write down what you think you would like your new year’s resolution (NYR) to be. Then, create a new year’s resolution page in your journal to write them out. NYRs are often an indication of your personal growth. You have areas of your life that you would like to improve and you think, “next year I will do such and such”. The problem of course is that while your NYR is a good idea, it doesn’t have any plan around it to make it a reality.

So, if you want to proceed with your NYR, then create your page of beautiful ideas to live out your dream life. And then use the journal to create achievable goals and keep track of your progress. [can do another video here].

9 Set goals

You can set goals any way you want to. You don’t need permission to set a goal, or achieve it. That’s the great thing about goals. There are many books written about goal setting and there are many downloadable goal setting worksheets on the internet. The SMART objectives are a great way to set goals. But you can set entirely your own framework. In fact, the more personal you make your goals and the goal setting time plan, the better your chance of success. Your goal journal ideas for setting goals can be equally personal and there are many different ways to achieve them. You could use bullet journal spreads, excel spreadsheets to monitor progress. You can divide the goals into different categories and create a separate section in your journal for those different categories.

10 Daily tasks

Away from the go-getting goal setting side of your goal journal, journaling around your daily tasks can be really therapeutic for your mental health and relaxing for your brain.

Journal about your day, about your work, about lunch. Write about how you feel about your day, what the weather was like, who you spoke to. Connect in with your feelings and journal about how you feel about your surroundings, your daily life.

Your goal may simply be to keep track of your day and to use your journal to record your daily life experience. And that’s a great thing.

11 Smaller goals

Smaller goals are as beautiful as big goals and can potentially make an equal impact on your life. What little thing would you like to achieve? Would you like to learn one piece of vocab every day, get out in the garden each day, contact a friend each day, finally keep to date night once a week. Small goals often address an aspect of your life that you might be neglecting, want to give attention to, but feel you don’t have the time. In that way they are powerful indicators of how you would like to live your life. Make space for them in your journal. Even if you just write out a list of smaller goals you’d like to achieve and then gradually address each one, at least you have made a list of goals and are now able to track them.

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12 Goal trackers

By now you are probably getting the message that the more you keep track of your goals, the greater your chances of success. And of course a goal setting journal is dedicated to exactly that. Setting a goal is one aspect of achieving your goal, but monitoring that goal, using a goal tracker, will help to ensure your success. A goal tracker is a great tool and you can create your own in your journal. You just need the what (what is your goal), the how (how you are going to achieve this goal). Your tracker monitors your progress, so the how is a major part in this. Write down your how and then track your progress, whether you are achieving it or whether you need to catch up, or whether you are ahead.

13 Bullet journal

A bullet journal goals page is a great way to journal yourself to goal success.

14 Brain dump

Before starting any project and setting goals, why not do a big brain dump at the start of your journal. Get out on paper: all your ideas for your goals, what would you like to achieve, what goals would you like to see ticked off your bucket list this year? What don’t you want to do? What does your ideal life look like, both in the short term and in the long term? How do you want to live each day? Do you want to work full time or part time? How do you want your family life to be like? How do you want your personal relationship to loo like? The more you can get out on paper the easier it will be to set goals that really mean something to you.

15 Daily spreads / weekly spread / Monthly spreads

Use your goal tracker to divide up the information into daily spreads and monthly spreads. Then you can monitor your progress over specific periods of time. Plus by grouping your actions in this way you can see what kind of progress you can make and thereby track the rest of your goal. You may have set a goal too strictly and it’s just impossible to achieve in the time you have given it. Conversely you may have set a goal that is too easy and you can easily achieve it within the timeframe you have set yourself. Either way, your daily and monthly spreads will be showing you this information and you can adjust your goal setting accordingly.

16 Weekly goals

Setting a goal for the week is a great period of time to focus on your objectives. You may want to do a spurt of activity in one area of your goal, and setting a weekly sprint activity can be a way of boosting your results.

17 Goal categories

If you have many goals then separate them out into goal categories. Or you may have one big goal which can be broken down into goal categories.

18 Mind map

Use a mind map to get all your ideas out into your goal journal. Link related ideas. Sometimes we don’t know what we are thinking. Sometimes we have so many ideas it can be overwhelming and just getting them out on paper can be a good thing.

Other blog posts you might like

How to use journaling to track your self improvement goals
9 easy quickstart tips to creating a journal for self improvement
What is a growth mindset journal?

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